Gustaviansk människosyn. Värderingar i Hedvig Elisabeth Charlottas dagbok


  • Gunnar Artéus


Gustavian Views on Human Nature

This article is a pilot study for a research project named Gustaviansk människosyn (Gustavian views on human nature). ”Gustavian” refers to the reign of Gustavus III of Sweden (1771–92); and ”views on human nature” are defined as the opinion of, for instance, a collective regarding the value of various human properties – if they are good or bad – and which of them are especially important. The method used in identifying these properties is basically ”quantitative content analysis” (Berelson). The article studies the diary of Duchess Hedvig Elisabeth Charlotta, sister-in-law of Gustavus III. Her views, which are considered by the author to be fairly representative of the Gustavian social elite, seem rather interesting. Many values rooted in the older (pre-Gustavian) Swedish society appear to be very much in force. There are, however, some new views – characteristically Gustavian, the author suggests – recognizable in the diary. Hedvig Elisabeth Charlotta is highly appreciative of such human properties as goodness, tenderness, friendliness, politeness, and delicacy; and is particularly contemptuous of rudeness and hot temper. It could be argued that the Gustavian era introduced a ”softer” and more humane mentality and also gentler models of social behaviour in Swedish society. A process of civilization, one might say. The influence of French social culture is obvious.